Ancient Craft Masonry

Exploring the Origins of Freemasonry


ncient Craft Masonry refers to the first three degrees of Freemasonry. It is the world's oldest and largest fraternal organization. It is known by many names: Freemasonry, Masonry, the Blue Lodge, Symbolic Masonry or simply as "the Craft." Ancient Craft Masonry is comprised of the degrees, Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason, although originally, there were only two.

Freemasonry is often described as a peculiar system of morality veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols. The aim of the Craft is to make good men better with a special form of instruction from ancient rituals. Most of the symbols used in these rituals derive from the working tools of operative masons from the middle ages and teach the speculative masons moral lessons. The brotherhood of masonry is joined together by the ideals of a moral and metaphysical nature.

There is also an esoteric side of Ancient Craft Masonry. Many of the symbols presented to initiates of the Craft Lodges are not operative masonry tools. These other symbols have an exoteric meaning as presented in the ritual but many of these symbols have a hidden meaning as well. It is up to the initiate to search out the esoteric symbolism of the Craft. Appendant rites such as the Scottish Rite or the York Rite claim to help Master Masons search for a deeper understanding of the first three degrees of Masonry, Some of the symbolism in Craft Masonry originates in the ancient mystery traditions of the world. Hermetic Philosophy, Kaballah, and Alchemy, for example, share many of the same symbols as Freemasonry.